There are more than 500 nursing homes in Indiana. Subject to inspection by the State Department of Health, these facilities must be licensed and are expected to maintain accepted standards of care and safety. Unfortunately, long-term care facilities in Indiana have had a poor record of meeting this duty.
In 2011, there were 5,185 reports of abuse or neglect at nursing homes in the state. A report by ABC News highlighted mouse droppings in one kitchen, sexual abuse and an incident where a resident did not receive medication for 11 days. It is estimated that 90 percent of nursing homes nationwide do not have enough trained staff to adequately care for residents, which contributes to the high rates of neglect.
Signs of nursing home neglect include:
- Weight loss
- Untreated pressure sores
- Poor hygiene
- Unclean bedding and clothing
While these problems may seem less serious than overt physical or sexual abuse, neglecting to provide proper daily care may account for half of all injuries and wrongful deaths at nursing homes. Frail elders may not be aware that they are dehydrated, a condition that can cause dizziness and confusion. Overmedicating residents to keep them quiet is unfair and unhealthy. Overburdened staff often do not have time to make sure residents take their prescribed medications on schedule.
Only a minority of nursing home abuse or neglect incidents ever get reported, since seniors are often too afraid to speak out or are unable to do so. Family members who notice signs of neglect or emotional or physical abuse should alert the nursing home administration immediately. You should also contact an attorney with expertise in nursing home negligence.